Prospero the Enchanter and his frequent adversary A.H. make a wager to see who can educate the better magician: Prospero puts his daughter Celia into play, while A. chooses the young orphan Marco. And they set up the stage for the two of them to show off their skills: The Night Circus. Held only in black and white, filled with the finest artists around the world, both Celia and Marco keep enhancing it with their magic. But neither knows the rules of the game, nor the actual end goal. In the meantime, though, the Night Circus gains notoriety and its very own following.
The Night Circus has a very cool concept. But while I loved the idea of it, I didn’t fall in love with it as much as I could have. I’m not entirely certain why, though it might be to do with Celia and Marco.
Celia and Marco were sweet characters. I liked them. But they just fell a little flat for me. I was much more interested in the supporting characters – for most of whom we didn’t get nearly enough back story and/or closure. I still want to know: who was Isobel before she met Marco? What happened to Poppet and Bailey? Did they live happily ever after? And could I please just get more Tsukiko in general?
It also didn’t help the book much that Morgenstern continuously jumped between timelines. I found myself going back a couple of chapters to find out if I had jumped forwards or backwards and by how much. I think a linear structure would have benefited the book a lot.
That being said, there was a lot of prettiness in the book, especially with the circus that I would love to visit myself. It did sound intriguing, even if Morgenstern doesn’t quite manage to make its magic manifest on the pages.
I loved that Bailey didn’t turn out to be a Chosen One, but rather just a person who was in the right place at the right time and who was willing to shoulder the necessary responsibility and work for it, instead of things falling magically into place.
In the end, though, I expected to love the book much more than I did. I expected to be more enchanted. While the book did make me smile and picture things, it never made me gasp – but I felt like a gasp was what it wanted to get.
Summarizing: Nice, but not great.